Free hosting service for schools and colleges
I am so pleased to have found this site. I wish I'd stumbled across it a long time ago.
I hope I might have something ready in the next couple of months that might interest those of you who are interested in creating web spaces for your students. I'm aware that there are some people offering hosting for schools (such as edutechhosting), but mine is based around a custom hosting management system rather than the free provision of a hosted domain.
I am a FE ICT teacher (although my background is secondary) and I'm also studying for an MSc in Internet Apps Development. After recent issues related to web hosting for students at my college I have decided to create a free hosting service for schools for my major MSc project.
The idea is to create a web-based service where teachers can sign up their school and add class lists (in a format like xls) and the system creates separate folders on the server for each class->student. Usernames and password would be created for each student on-the-fly that allow students to log in and upload folders/files in an ftp-like interface (without the need for a local ftp client). Then each student would have their own website address (the following links don't work) Note that no domain purchase is required:
school.hostdomain.com/class/student eg. stjohns.achost.com/10C/debbie
Teachers are able to administer students accounts, and certain security measures can be put in place to prevent access from outside the school (if required- by IP) and password protect sites from public view (if required- by htaccess) and also locking accounts to prevent late submission, modification and deletion of coursework (if required). Also the idea is to have a facility to allow teachers to download a local copy of the class' work to a CD for exams board/ moderator submission, etc (or the exam board could view the sites live).
Essentially it will be a streamlined, highly manageable system for teachers, providing only basic hosting, but providing additional security/privacy and download options customised for schools. Incidentally, my intention is to provide only simple file hosting, so no databases or server side scripts- but I know there are people getting their students playing with Joomla et al, so if your students need php/mysql/etc then I could look into implementing these things later.
It's an ambitious project but I'm already well underway with the development (I'll place a link when I have something ready to show off). At this stage I'd be interested in hearing from school staff who might be interested in such a service or those with concerns or suggestions. I have an arrangement to trial the system at my current college, but I'd be interested in hearing from people for the following things:
General indications of interest, especially in trialling and providing feedback on its use.
Anyone with security/privacy/DPA/technical concerns to such a thing (This is a biggy as far as I'm concerned, and your input would be valuable)
As well as teachers, I'd love to hear from network managers, as it will take some effort to get such a system working consistently in the minefield that are LA/School firewalls. I want network managers to be happy with the integrity of the system.
Also, exam board representatives about their requirements and initiatives as far as online coursework goes. As a teacher I think I can fulfill their criteria, but it'd be nice to have some dialog
For absolutely any comments or more details please don't hesistate to reply to this post or email me on andy at websitesfast dot co dot uk
I will be ready to release the beta to 3-5 schools for testing mid-October and if you'd be interested in trying it out I'd absolutely love to hear from you. Ultimately I'm after teachers/schools who would allow me to conduct an in-depth study of how the system is being used and its implications on teaching and learning.